Over the last week or so I’ve shared part one and part two of a basic guide to the most common cotton fabrics, focusing mostly on apparel fabric. Now it is time for part three to wrap it up, and next I’ll talk about some common synthetic fabrics.
If there are any fabrics in particular you would like more information about, let me know!
And now, the last few cotton apparel fabrics I think any beginner sew-er should know:
Being from the South, I’m quite familiar with seersucker garments worn in the spring and summer. Funny enough, I was actually told recently by a guy from South Carolina how the unique crinkled texture of seersucker is achieved: the yarn tension is alternated during the weaving process so that certain bunches of yarn clump together and cause the fabric to crinkle. It may look intimidating, but sewing with seersucker is not particularly difficult. It is most often used in men’s clothing but can be used for a wide variety of garments for men, women, and kids.
Twill is most often identified by the diagonal lines across its surface. It’s most often used for dresswear such as suits and jackets but can also be found in casual bottoms like shorts. It’s a pretty flexible fabric for a lot of different projects, but it is a little heavy for a beginner who’s first learning to sew, and sometimes you have to use a nap pattern which adds a layer of difficulty. After you get the hang of sewing, twill is probably a good choice for projects in the near future!
There are fabrics made from 100% cotton sold as “velvet,” but what you’re more likely to find is velveteen. It can be used in clothing, but is also great for decorations especially around the holiday. The fabric itself is not difficult to sew, but there are extra steps you have to take to maintain the fabric. You have to lay your pattern out properly to work with the nap, edges need to be finished very well, and when pressing it’s easy to accidentally press the texture out of the fabric. I would recommend holding off on this fabric because of the extra care and sticking to something more low-maintenance. Maybe around the holidays you can grab some velveteen for crafts and projects?
Voile is a very delicate sheer fabric that can be used to make draping garments and beautiful dresses. However, it is so delicate that it requires some special care that may be difficult for a beginner. Definitely experiment with this fabric in your future projects, but for now use fabrics that are more durable but still lightweight as you develop your sewing skills!
That’s about it for cotton! There are a wide variety of cotton fabrics from which to choose, but that’s a rundown of what I think are the most common apparel fabrics you’ll encounter in the fabric store. I mentioned before that I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on purely decorative fabrics for upholstery or other furniture, but in the future if you’d like I can cover those as well.
Know Before You Sew: Cotton fabrics tend to shrink when washed, so you’ll need to prewash all cotton fabrics before starting a project. When you buy a cut of fabric, the care instructions are usually written on the bolt so be sure to look at that before you leave. If you buy a remnant, the care instructions are usually on the label.